For me, photography has always been a hymn to beauty. This view was indeed reinforced and much deepened when I learned more about Buddhist philosophy and practice. According to the Buddhist teachings, Buddha-nature is present in every living being. The natural state of one’s mind, when it is not misconstrued by the power of negative thoughts, is perfection.
– Matthieu Ricard, Beauty Beyond Beauty
It was dark o’clock when I slipped my stocking feet into a pair of cozy felted clogs on an especially cold February morning–was it one or two winters ago? I don’t know, but I do remember the media hype leading up to the appearance of this Super Blood Moon. “It’s a rare spectacle!” some expert reported, so I set the camera as well as the alarm for an early morning date with lunar destiny.
Disoriented and half-forgetting why I was up so early in the first place, I completely forgot to put my jacket on as I stumbled into an ocean of frozen moonlight the following morning. I’ll never forget the feeling of otherworldliness that embraced me as I stood gazing at the spectacle, my nightshirt billowing in the windchill. The light didn’t look so much purple as it felt purple, and for a brief moment I was unsure of what time and place I was standing in.
Suddenly, sharp pains in my fingertips brought me back to the twenty-first century. Seeking the warmth of my breath, both of my hands were vasoconstricting. It was one of a handful of attacks that struck that winter, forcing me away from the spellbinding view toward the safety of warm running water in the kitchen.
As the blood began pulsing back through my fingertips, turning them from a ghostly white back to a normal pink hue, the blood moon was pulsing down toward the horizon. With no time to set up the tripod, I quickly knocked off a series of handheld shots as it joined the barren branches in a hymn of beauty.
When I consider Matthieu Ricard’s enlightened thoughts about the power of negative thoughts to misconstrue the perfect nature of the mind, I am reminded of the constriction in my fingertips that wintery morning. I would never choose to do such a painful thing to my precious hands, and yet I sometimes indulge in a quality of thinking which disconnects me from the present moment – the only place where the songs of beauty can be heard and our voices can be heard.
How do we place ourselves, and keep ourselves, in these wandering streams of beauty?
Photo Credits: Hymnal Moon by Susan J. Preston, Santa Fe, New Mexico © 2018, all rights reserved
Technical: Fuji XT-2 | 100mm (XF 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR) | 1/350 sec | f 5.0| ISO 3200